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Is the Indian public unfit for the democratic form of government?

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Knowing your constitutional rights is not enough. People must maintain the environment and conditions favorable for the growth of democracy and should learn to use constitutional rights for the proper functioning of a democracy.

What would be your opinion when you hear or read a news like “ Mr. Vibhadra Singh threatened the media and warned them that he he will smash their cameras”? A spicy news for all the news channels, the daily newspapers and the readers, who would love to wonder what Raja Ji has been doing. The BJP sympathizers would find it very soothing to hear that. Well, that would add to the scoreboard of stinking political party war. On the other hand, the fans of Virbhadra Sing would feel an extreme wave of rage against the media. Even the rival media channels and papers join hands when it comes to threats. Quite justifiable because that’s the only thing that can prevent them from being a victim of the rising dictatorship of the wealthy and political giants.

Although every political group is indulged in the blame game but, most of all, the BJP finds it cozy to jump in the gutter and enjoy mud slinging as the emptiness inside the united face of the party is getting visible to the public. The factionalism in their own house and rebel activities in Himachal are two scary nightmares for the BJP. Think about it for a while. Why only during the election time? That’s one of the main aspect that every voter must perceive. Each word spoken and every action performed by the leader of a particular party project their character and the respect for moral rules in the game play. It doesn’t mean that Raja Ji is a victim of media exaggeration or political tricks of rivals. There could be material in all the allegations, which are causing a headache,especially for the Congress. Further, the undemocratic behavior on the part of some of its leaders is a very strong indication of prevailing misuse of the power of the state e.g. the congress didn’t even bother to consult its allies regarding the implementation of the FDI. A couple of weeks ago Salmaan Khurshid, our law minister, was threatening Keijarwal publicly using highly questionable language. Now, the reaction of the opposition leader, Virbhadra Singh, to a question regarding the tax evasion and money laundering allegations leveled by BJP might have untied his inner dictatorial wish. Have a look at the videos below.


Video Credits: NDTV/

Do you find these gestures appropriate on the part of two powerful political leaders? Why is there so much aggression if they are clean? Perhaps, these questions are scaring them as the polling day in nearing. These questions should be a great concern for the sheep herd, who find it highly tough to ‘Think’. The thinking faculty of of our people has been replaced by the perceptions based on the news headlines on TV Channels and spicy stories in the daily newspapers.
While most of us, who had wondered a lot when the TV Channel Aaj Tak disclosed the finding of their investigative operation ‘Dhritrashtra’, would have found it difficult to look for the progress that is being made in the case. Are those allegations true? If not, then did Salmaan proved that officially through any documented material evidences? It’s too much of the corruption. It’s beyond tolerance now. Our nation needs change. These are the opinions that the media gets from the public. Then why doesn’t it affect the culprits?

The answer is that Lord Vishnu has still not appeared as an Avatar, who will destroy the corruption from India and bring peace and prosperity for the human kind. Keep waiting guys, but it’s your inability to ‘unite and think’ that encourage aristocracy and corruption. The government doesn’t have anyone to be afraid of. The public has elected them itself, but doesn’t know how to take that power back or make the representatives responsible. There are a few who dares, but the shine of money and power push them to the corners. Sometimes, it sounds to be true that Indian public has a taste for slavery and the common man likes to be ruled. The public of our nation doesn’t seem to be fit for the democratic system of government e.g. Article 25, 26, 27 and 28 safeguard the religious freedom of all citizens, and wish for a secular state. That’s a mistake to give them that on the account of the behavioral characteristic shown by the majority of people in the Indian society. The democratic government is useless for such a public that doesn’t even know how to use the ‘Right To Expression’ and because these idiots believe in maintaining classification on the bases of caste or wealth & status. There are even subcategories in some of the castes. The political parties are not far behind in taking advantage of religious beliefs and provoke people to form religious groups, which are highly intolerable towards other religious beliefs. The RSS and Shiv Sena are two solid examples of it.

It’s a definite and certain fact that the democracy can’t work without the interference of the common public. In order to interfere, one must know and understand the concept of the democratic system. Knowledge and the reaction of the public is the only power that can eliminate the corruption and force the government to rectify the malfunctioning of the democratic machinery.

Moreover, the perception regarding the media should be changed. The media and the press are not just meant for the entertainment or just for watching and reading. The purpose of media is to circulate the true facts regarding any important news that matters to their Nation. Rest depends on the public. The public is the authority that needs to unite and demand justification from the government during the times like our nation going through presently. If denied cooperation, then use the Judiciary to punish the culprits legally. However, in a view that the common man would rarely dare to attempt an action using our judicial machinery, the environment becomes favorable for the growth of corruption. The world appears to be favoring only to the wealthy, politically relevant personalities and the powerful. Still, the awakening of the common man is the only permanent cure to the degraded condition of India.

Fundamental-Rights

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The only right the people of India know and are welcomed to consume is that of ‘voting’. In a nutshell, it’ll be a humorous joke to claim that we live in a democratic state, but afraid of using the rights given to us and, unfortunately, our fears are justifiable on the grounds that a greater part of the public is suffering from imbalances in the economy of the nation. You must survive first and then think about enjoying your rights.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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A Harrowing Challenge of Drug Menace in Himachal Pradesh

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drug abuse in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla- The drug menace, predominant among the younger generation, has been haunting the state of Himachal Pradesh for a while now. Inadvertently, an incipient problem of drug use has transformed into a full-blown problem. Over the past few months, minatory incidents such as the arrest of people in possession of contraband drugs became quotidian, and several mysterious deaths of students left the parents in despondency. The faces of the parents are masked with discernable worry and panic, albeit their stony silence on the issue, fails them in downplaying the issue.

If education is driving our children to indulge in drugs, in that case, it’s better not to send them to school/colleges and keep them illiterate,

said a man remorsefully, after reading news about the arrest of a college goer in possession of “Chitta”. The statement reflects the manifest distress and uneasiness among parents.

How dismal the situation is, can be fathomed from the fact that in the year 2018, so far, 151 cases have been registered under the Narcotics Act, and 204 people have been put behind the bars in connection to drug peddling. In addition, 94 kg of Charas, 3 kg of opium, 116 kg of poppy husk, 0.496 kg of ganja, 480 grams of heroin and 39135 tablets/capsules were seized in the state from April to June 2018, as per the report of the state Government submitted before the Hon’ble High Court in the month of August.

In response, the state cabinet under the Chief Minister, on 30 November 2018, decided an amendment in the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances(Himachal Pradesh Amendment Bill) 2018, which will be moved in the upcoming winter assembly session in Dharamshala, in order to make the offense non-bailable. The opposition has welcomed the move-not surprising, as they had been making a clarion call for change in law for some time now.

Ergo, the Drug trafficking or smuggling of narcotics in the state of Himachal will become a non-bailable offense once the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Himachal Pradesh Amendment Bill), 2018 is passed by the assembly in the upcoming session.

The drug menace is not only unpalatable but if it is not quelled timely, it could become inveterate, jeopardizing the prosperity and stymieing the progress of the region. Clearly, the government was left with very few options, apart from making the crime non-bailable but this step might take care of the demand side of this complex issue. In doing this, the policymakers may be overlooking the overriding concerns on the supply side: as the amendments in the law may end up punishing the drug consumers only, whereas the supplier or the producers/manufacturer (in case of Chitta) of contraband drugs may never be nabbed. And the danger is– considering the inordinate delay and pendency of cases in our courts-the miscreants, especially the youth, may never get the second chance to redeem themselves.

After all, we all make mistakes in life, but, the key is to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them.

Hitherto, we have failed to underscore the crucial factors that festered drug use and it’s peddling. Be it the permeable border, high disposable income, lack of employment opportunities, temptation to make easy money or lack of awareness about the heinous repercussion of drug menace- high-risk behaviour, HIV/Aids/Hepatitis-C, violence, child abuse, risky sexual behaviour, the stigma of social exclusion, incarceration and list is endless. There are issues which require a far greater attention of the policymakers and the government.

First and foremost, we need to identify the conduit of these contraband drug and target it indiscriminately. The various studies show that once the European countries stopped the entry of drugs from “Balkan Route-the conduit of the drug trade to Europe” their problem of drug menace was half solved. Our state should follow the same approach.

With the advent of social media, the tricks of the drug trade have also changed; most of the drug sales nowadays are done on “Dark Net”. The state needs to ensure that our intelligence and police are abreast with all the latest technological advancement to nab the big fish of the drug trade. Only then this legislation will bring the desired results, or else our effort to curb the menace may belie the desired results.

Unsolicitedly, we all should provide, whatever little information we have about the drug buccaneers and miscreants in this trade to the police. The silence of the society on social evils don’t help in overcoming them but only fester them to the worse. Embrace meliorism!

We need to fight this menace from all quarters by spreading awareness about the pitfall of drug use. From parents, teachers, students, association, legislators, police, to NGOs, each one of us has a role in this battle against drugs. We, as a society, need to understand that it’s the higher socioeconomic groups that have a greater propensity to drug use, but it’s the society as a whole that pays the price.

The society, as a whole, needs to be emphatic to those who have fallen in the trap of drug use. The state also will have to ensure drug addicts are administered proper treatment-be it in prisons or in rehabilitation centers. Such an attitude for one and all will help drug addicts in overcoming the drug problem and social stigmatization.

The state also needs to usherradical reforms in sectors like education. At present, numerous youth get disillusioned when they get rejected for a job or don’t find a job. In frustration, they feel disheartened by the system and take up drugs. Whereas the real problem is, a majority of them lack the skill set and are often unemployable. The skill set is correlated with quality of education imparted to the students. The reform in the education system should commensurate with the requirement of the modern day age. It’s sad that we have commodified the education system, which further exacerbates the problems of the society, instead of remediating it.

Our policymakers need to introspect whether they have been able to formulate the policies that promote job creation and environment that thrives on an idea of innovation and technology.In absence of both these, youth is like to become susceptible to drugs to find solace. The policymakers need to avoid this trap and make sure the policies cultivate an environment on which our society can prosper for the best, not for the worst.

A bit of lateral thinking will also help. We need to create more options for our youth to have fun and frolic. Let’s understand, if we can offer an environment full of alternative activities to our youth, it will prevent the youth from falling prey to drugs. More parks, health clubs, library, reading rooms (sadly reading habits are declining in society worldwide), playgrounds will certainly help. Our pedagogy and parents can help immensely in this, by encouraging the youth to develop different interest and hobbies. Remember the old adage: An idle brain is a devil’s workshop.

Interestingly, most of the towns in the state or villages for that matter have a painful story related to the drug menace to tell- some certainly veracious, some may be apocryphal. The imminent challenge is to overturn the predicament. In the future, the tales from the state should be about drug survivor who fought his way back to health, not about the one who languished all his life in the hope of emancipation.

We are blessed with a young population but the asset has to be preserved by creating an environment that gets the best out the youth. If we err in doing so, the same asset can easily turn into liability and spell doomsday for the state. It would be a tragedy if we allow our youth to embrace the darkness.

Let’s get our act together; it’s high time! Let’s build a bulwark in the path of slow death by presenting new avenues of life to the youth. They deserve this much, if not better.

Author: Sunny Grack

About Author: Sunny Grack is a former banker. Interested in matters on economy, globalisation ,financial market and public policy; an Economic and Management graduate. He lives in Shimla.

Disclaimer: Himachal Watcher may not necessarily share the same opinion as expressed by the author.

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Public Opinion

Too much of a good thing

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Luhri hydro project

After reading the “Environmental Impact Assessment Report of Luhri Hydro Electric Project Stage –I (210MW)” prepared by Interstellar Testing Centre Pvt. Ltd., Panchkula, a feeling of trepidation and quandary has crept in.

A quandary, as for why reports like this, I wonder, have its nomenclature as such.
Rather, such reports should be renamed as “A systematic exposition of constructing a dam.” Feeling of trepidation as the report, not surprisingly, has less to offer on the annihilating environment impact likely to ensue due to the construction of the proposed dam.

More so, the report is another veritable encomium on the construction of the dam. The report, somewhat expected, finishes with the insouciance coda:

Construction of dam will have some marginal negative effects without implementing certain Environmental Management Strategies. However, once EMP is adopted and implemented, the adverse impact will be almost nullified and the overall environmental quality of the area would improve.

Bravo! We should celebrate the amelioration of ecology construction of dam offers.
Yet another sacred totem of our socialistic model is in the making on the river Sutlej; next to the 412 MW Rampur hydroelectric project and 40kms upstream of the 800 MW Kol dam hydroelectric project. Many more to come, who knows! After all, still enough water in the river Satluj…

The whole business of construction of the dam is quite an oxymoron. At first, the construction of dams is projected in the interest of the nation and as an augury for prosperity for all. Followed by expropriation of land belonging to the inhabitants, with a promise of providing employment- the perennial bait offered to people affected by development projects.

Subsequently, they receive lucre as a reward for parting away with their most valued procession: land and house. The amount of lucre received is not more than a trinket, when we compare it with the amount of money the real stakeholder and grafters make out of such projects.

Once the construction starts, inhabitants realize that the benefits and reparations promised are ephemeral. By the time dam is completed, they find deceived by socialistic sophistries and their endemic habitat obliterated. An example of a stark dichotomy in our age: the beautification project is rewarded to cities, rural landscape is left with the construction of dams.

Dams have proved a stairway to ecocide: land submerged (three times more than claimed), habitat destroyed, and ecology ruined on an enormous proportion. The amount of destruction dams has done can’t be expressed in words. You must visit a dam site; every such site has an untold story. Places near the dam make a panorama of silent pain with a miasma of despair.

The houses there have cracks on the wall; fields are full of umpteen snag, crumbling terra firma, the fecund land turned barren and crops destroyed. Water sources are contaminated, women and children are suffering from various bronchial diseases.

Suspended dust particles (SMP) make breathing difficult for the elders. Some have not received the promised compensation; their faces reflect the sagging spirit and hope too.

The denizens do have a life but without a lifeline. All in all a painting of a terrible beauty desperately trying to portray a message; message which we all have failed to discern (I doubt we ever will). One wonder why there is not even a single comprehensive study on the environmental and social ruination inflicted by the construction of dams.

Too much optimistic; well, optimism and hope were always devoid of reason. The site of the dam makes us realize what we have lost as a society, not what we have gained. Probably, someday, one would publish a report on the trails of the havoc created by such dams.

While driving through Nirath, the proposed dam site, I found a placard planted depicting “DAM SITE”. Soon a sorry epitaph will be written: Too much of a good thing. Though that time around, there will be a sense of agony or maybe a tear or two.

About Hudri HEP Stage-1 Project in Brief

Luhri HEP Stage-I is proposed by SJVN Ltd at the intersection of Kullu and Shimla Districts of Himachal Pradesh. The project is a run- of- river type development proposed to generate 210 MW of power by constructing an 80 meters high concrete gravity dam on Sutlej river and surface toe powerhouse on its right bank near Nirath village.

Author: Sunny Grack

Disclaimer: Himachal Watcher may not necessarily share the same opinion as expressed by the author. 

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Environment

Till we meet again: Shimla Water Crisis

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All About Shimla Water Crisis

The Honourable Supreme Court in its conclusion to the case Narmada Bachao Andolan Vs Union of India and others on October 18, 2000 states:

Water is the basic need for the survival of human beings and is part of the right of life and human rights as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India and can be served only by providing a source of water where there is none.

At the time of writing this article, the water crisis in Shimla is effectively over but the fault lines have already been drawn. The crisis placed the beautiful town of Shimla in the global spotlight for all the ugly reasons and highlighted the fissures in this fragile place.

Every source of media whether Indian or Western underscored the problem and compared it to the Cape Town Water crisis. A few went a step further and used the words such as “Day Zero” or “Water Wars” in respect of Shimla without exactly understanding the gravity of the situation and the message the words carry.

Day Zero is when in any town or city the authorities shut off the water supply except hospitals and other vital institution with the majority of residents lining up at water check-points for their daily supply.

Water wars need no introduction except that it takes place between the haves and the have-nots.

All this was done without giving a thought to one’s social responsibility as a citizen or a source of information no matter authentic or apocryphal.

Shimla & Cape Town

Shimla is no Cape Town; it will have to walk several hundred miles to become something even remotely close to it. Cape Town had suffered three years of unprecedented drought, which depleted its water reservoirs supplying water to the city. Due to this, the city had advised its residents to prepare themselves for the purported Day Zero, the year being 2018.

However, before that Cape Town had already embarked on the path for conservation in the year 2007 and had prepared Water Conservation and Water Demand Management Strategy (WC/WDM).

If there existed any prescience in a city in a third world country, then it was Cape Town. Before the introduction of the programme, the water consumption in the city was growing at the rate of 4.7% per annum.

But through its excellent management strategies and innovation Cape Town was able to reduce water consumption growth at a rate of less than 2% per annum. It resulted in a reduction of water wastage by 20% and total water savings of 30% approx.).

For its sustained efforts and successful conservation, Cape Town won first prize for Adaption & Implementation in C40 Cities Award 2015 beating 91 cities including Copenhagen and Paris.

The city did not encourage the tourists to stay away- rather it launched “Save Like a Local Campaign” requesting tourists to keep their water usage to under 87 liters per day, the same restrictions placed on residents. In Cape Town, the Mayor can anytime come knocking at your door to check the water management.

In this city only, the top 100 water user streets were publicised. Water tariffs were structured to cater to poor households. And our intentions are to see ourselves at par with this city, a city that even in times of distress has maintained its dignity.

South Eastern Queensland

Entire Australia suffered drought in the 2000s due to climatic disturbances with South East Queensland being the major casualty. During the beginning of the drought, the per person usage of the Queenslanders was 300 liters per person per day for washing, eating, drinking, and gardening.

Come the year 2015, it was reduced to 169 liters per person per day. Even before the worst phase of drought began in the year 2007, the outdoor water-related restrictions were already in place since 2005.

It was then, that the Queensland Water Commission launched the Target 140 campaign. The campaign emphasized voluntary residential indoor water saving practices, behaviors and attitudes.

The campaign was a success since it achieved a permanent behavioral and attitudinal change. Over a sustained period of eight months of the campaign, the average daily water consumption dropped from 179 liters to 126 liters per person per day.
This change effectively resulted in savings of 20,680 million liters of water.

Shimla

Life is always full of options, and one such option is “Fight or Flight” and we the people of Shimla choose the flight option when we requested tourists to skip Shimla this summer.

This might have worked for now with tourists staying away from Shimla but this may not work every time. And it will be not long before we realize that such exhortations will strip Shimla of its Soul first and silver later.

We the people of Shimla take pride by seeing ourselves in one of the richest and educated towns in the country. But it is high time, we realize that the next summer is only 300 days away and this crisis is not to be wasted.

We need to learn, how other cities of the world managed to come out of such crises and set examples for the whole world to see. It needs to be ensured that the crisis is not given a rerun the next summer but it will involve drudgery (being primal) on the part of everyone living in Shimla or loving Shimla.

Initially, on the macro level, we need to focus on both the supply side as well as the demand side. First, we should begin with the cheaper solutions i.e. the demand side solutions. The stakeholders in this being residents, hotels, tourists and it can be done by a change in our attitudes. Our behavior and attitudes should reflect the water saving practices which over a period of time become the norm for us.

Incentivising water saving would be the step to go forward on the similar lines of Carbon credits, how about Blue credits. Next would be the supply side solutions, i.e. the costly ones, augmenting the resources catering to Shimla, be it the upcoming Government Schemes or the existing supply schemes.

The city under all circumstances should be prepared for the worst day if it so ever comes.
On a micro level, the dead water or zero revenue water should be reduced, which would effectively mean overhauling the supply systems, so that there are no leakages.

Equipping our buildings with rainwater harvesting systems and similarly incentivising this practice would also go a long way in recharging the groundwater.

Meanwhile, improving the city drainage system would mean that outpouring does not end up in the city sewers. Replacement of the old and antiquated water meters, so that the profligate users are identified and brought to justice.

Taking of Shimla from grey to green by increasing its greenery would ensure that we do not give into concrete. The publishing of Water Report every year, before the onset of summer, outlining water availability in the upcoming months, would ensure that all the stakeholders are made aware in advance of the upcoming water situation.

And all this would begin with a realization of our rights, of our authority and an adage, which goes by Of the People, By the People, For the People, always in the back of our mind.

Water scarcity is here to stay and if there is any chance, it is going to go northwards only.

By Maneet, Shimla

Disclaimer: Himachal Watcher may not share the same views and opinions as expressed by the author in this article. 

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